Photo Credit: John Sullivan

Willow Run has a deep history of innovation and was initially built by Henry Ford as an advanced aircraft manufacturing facility during World War II. It was redeveloped by General Motors in the 1950s as a powertrain plant that operated until 2010.

Riveting a center wing section for a B-24E (Liberator) bomber in the horizontal position at Ford’s big Willow Run plant.  National Archives and Records Administration, 196387.

Now, it will become the premiere national facility for mobility and advanced automotive testing and product development.

The center is uniquely positioned to accommodate the broad needs of industry and government with its capabilities to test vehicles, roads, infrastructure and communication systems, while providing room to grow and adapt as technology dictates. The site comes with a number of desirable features and structures already in place including double overpasses, a railroad crossing and a highway loop to test at sustained highway speeds. Testing can occur during all four seasons, day and night, in sun, rain, ice and snow. These elements help to create the perfect environment for testing and setting national standards for mobility technologies before vehicles and other products are deployed. The center will also serve as a development facility that will allow companies to lease space for office and research use, garages and other amenities.

The American Center for Mobility will expand the region’s business incubation and acceleration capabilities while bringing great economic opportunity to southeast Michigan and the United States.

The reactivation of the Willow Run site reinforces Michigan’s global position as the automotive leader while creating new innovations that will drive the future of mobility.


Contributing $75,000 to American Center for Mobility analysis conducted by Michigan State University and Texas A&M Transportation Institute

ANN ARBOR, Mich., June 27, 2018 – The Toyota Research Institute (TRI) is contributing $75,000 to the American Center for Mobility (ACM) analysis of automated vehicles’ impact on driving-related jobs. ACM’s study, titled “Preparing the Workforce for Automated Vehicles,” is being conducted by Michigan State University in collaboration with Texas A&M Transportation Institute. TRI joins other companies in supporting this important research.

“TRI is committed to advancing automated vehicle technology in ways that improve society and individual well-being, and we need to better understand the impact this may have on future jobs and employment,” said Dr. Gill Pratt, TRI CEO and Toyota Motor Corporation Fellow. “Our participation in this study can help address the societal effects in a meaningful way.”

The research will provide several points of insight, including:

  • Identification of the jobs expected to be affected;
  • Quantification of the impact on specific job categories;
  • Identification of the skills that will be needed for the future; and
  • Recommendations for new education and training curricula.

The primary objective of the study is to understand impacts on the workforce and to lay the foundation for a training template for commercial drivers for the future, especially in the areas of freight and package delivery, taxi and ride-hailing. It is designed to help ensure that job skills evolve with new automated vehicle technology and professional drivers can remain productively employed. The study is expected to be published later in 2018.

“Industry involvement is paramount as we undergo this study, especially when we consider the implications on talent and how the potential needs of employers will shift,” said Soraya Kim, ACM’s Chief Innovation Officer who is leading the initiative. “We thank TRI for their continued commitment and for being a partner to get this important work done.”

As TRI values the safety, personal mobility, and economic advances to society that automated vehicle technology will deliver, it is committed to also understanding the impact this technology will have on the future of work. Last week, Toyota Motor North America was announced as a founding member of the Partnership for Transportation Innovation and Opportunity (PTIO), a collaboration committed to exploring how autonomous vehicles will impact American workers as well as identifying opportunities and developing solutions to address future challenges. TRI is actively exploring further opportunities to research the societal implications and lead collaborative strategies that provide pathways to new career opportunities and skills training that will be integral to society in the 21st century.

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About Toyota Research Institute
Toyota Research Institute is a wholly owned subsidiary of Toyota Motor North America under the direction of Dr. Gill Pratt. The company, established in 2015, aims to strengthen Toyota’s research structure and has four initial mandates: 1) enhance the safety of automobiles, 2) increase access to cars to those who otherwise cannot drive, 3) translate Toyota’s expertise in creating products for outdoor mobility into products for indoor mobility, and 4) accelerate scientific discovery by applying techniques from artificial intelligence and machine learning. TRI is based in the United States, with offices in Los Altos, Calif., Cambridge, Mass., and Ann Arbor, Mich. For more information about TRI, please visit

About ACM
The American Center for Mobility is a non-profit testing, education and product development facility for
future mobility, designed to enable safe validation and self-certification of connected and automated
vehicle technology, and to accelerate the development of voluntary standards. ACM is one of 10 U.S.
DOT designated Automated Vehicle Proving Grounds in the U.S. The Center is a joint initiative with the
State of Michigan founded in partnership with the Michigan Department of Transportation, the
Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the University of Michigan, Business Leaders for
Michigan and Ann Arbor SPARK. To learn more about ACM, visit

Media Contacts

John Hanson
Director, Communications & Public Affairs
Toyota Research Institute

Rick Bourgoise
Manager, Communications
Toyota Research Institute

Past Releases:

American Center for Mobility establishes partnership with international proving grounds,harmonizes CAV testing protocols and best practices

Siemens strengthens position in connected and autonomous vehicles through partnership with American Center for Mobility

IEEE and American Center for Mobility Agree to Collaborate on Technical Standards for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles

American Center for Mobility, State of Michigan Celebrate Grand Opening

Adient announces partnership with the American Center for Mobility

American Center for Mobility Partners with MSU, Texas A&M Transportation Institute on Workforce Study

Snyder and Michigan tout American Center for Mobility’s rapid growth, success at NAIAS

American Center for Mobility Open for Testing

American Center for Mobility announces Intertek will serve as its operations and maintenance partner

Visteon Partners with American Center for Mobility as Founding Member, Driving Development of Autonomous Vehicles

Hyundai America Technical Center Invests $5 Million in American Center for Mobility

American Center for Mobility Leads Collaborative Effort on Education, Workforce Development with 15 Michigan Colleges and Universities

American Center for Mobility Issues Request for Partnership to Develop HQ, Labs

Ford Motor Co. pledges $5 million to support the American Center for Mobility

U.S. DOT New Automated Driving Systems Guidance in Alignment with American Center for Mobility

Toyota to Collaborate with the American Center for Mobility

American Center for Mobility CEO Testifies on Self-Driving Vehicles for U.S. Senate Committee

American Center for Mobility signs agreements with Institute of Transportation Engineers, SAE International in effort to fast-track connected, automated vehicle standards

Angelo lafrate Construction Company awarded $24 million contract for connected, automated vehicle test bed

American Center for Mobility designated by US Department of Transportation as national automated vehicle proving ground

AT&T and the American Center for Mobility Fuel the Future of Automated Driving

Snyder and Michigan celebrate American Center for Mobility groundbreaking at Willow Run (PDF)

The American Center for Mobility Supports Federal AV Guidance (PDF)

Agreement Reached on Willow Run Purchase (PDF)